Kansas City school board delays decision on the sale of Westport High School

04/18/2014 3:49 PM

04/18/2014 5:32 PM

With new members and a new president, the Kansas City school board is going to give itself an extra month to mull over the potential sale of Westport High School.

The district’s administration is still recommending that the district sell the vacant school to Foutch Brothers Real Estate, Superintendent Steve Green confirmed to The Star this week.

Foutch is teamed with the Academie Lafayette charter school, which is looking to open an international high school in the fall of 2015. Foutch’s plan also includes residential and business services in Westport and providing community access to fitness and athletic facilities.

Controversy over the future of the building spread through the midtown neighborhoods around the school after The Star recently reported that the board in closed session had voted against the proposed sale.

Several community members have signed up to speak to the board at its public business meeting Wednesday, at least some of them planning to urge the board to reverse the vote.

New board president Jon Hile said he expects the board to take up the Westport sale again, but the board has agreed that it needs time so new members elected April 8 can be informed on the issues.

Voters selected at-large candidates Amy Hartsfield and Pattie Mansur and Subdistrict 4 candidate Melissa Robinson to join the board.

The board also turned over its leadership when it reorganized after the election. Board member Airick Leonard West, who had been president most of the past four years, nominated Hile for the post. Hile was elected in a 7-1 vote. Carl Evans was the only vote against Hile, and Marisol Montero abstained.

Curtis Rogers was elected vice president, though that vote split down gender lines. The panel’s five male members voted yes, while the four female members voted no.

Hile, who has been part of a board that had operated generally with broad consensus under West in recent years, said he does not expect that to change going forward.

Westport, however, proved to be a dividing issue for the previous board. By statute, six of the nine board members must vote to approve a real estate sale, rather than a simple majority of five members.

The district’s repurposing office announced it is working toward seeking a new vote from the board at its May 28 meeting.

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